What to expect from Sona: SA to bear the brunt of six years of broken promises

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 8, 2024


Six years after President Cyril Ramaphosa took to the podium to deliver his maiden State of the Nation Address (Sona), most of what he promised has still not seen the light of day.

Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the 2024 Sona at the Cape Town City Hall this evening which gives him the opportunity to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters in the domestic and global spheres affecting the country.

Ramaphosa’s speech is likely to be one of the most important that he delivers in any year as the country gears up for the 2024 national and provincial elections.

Academics have stated that Ramaphosa will be obligated to make more promises ahead of this year’s elections, despite having failed to keep some of the promises made in his 2018 speech when he took over from Jacob Zuma.

The Star reported previously that at the beginning of his presidency, Ramaphosa promised to build one million houses in Alexandra and create one million jobs as well as a smart city, while in his February 2021 Sona he announced that several new post-apartheid cities were being conceptualised across the country while looking for an end to load shedding.

He also declared “a new dawn” that would “confront the injustices of the past and the inequalities of the present”, while he vowed to crack down on corruption.

More promises were made in the following years but have yet to be implemented.

These include the construction of two bridges, the Msikaba Bridge and Mtentu Bridge in the Eastern Cape, which has not been done.

Attempts to reach the Presidency about what can be expected in today’s Sona and the progress made since the last one came to nil.

President Cyril Ramaphosa responding to his Sona speech in the National Assembly in 2020. Here he jokingly asks the opposition parties to stand up. Picture: Cindy Waxa Independent Newspapers

Sociologist and political analyst from the University of the Free State, Professor Sethulego Matebesi, told The Star that Ramaphosa would be forced to make more promises tonight but he would not go into detail about his previous failures, although acknowledging them.

He added that Ramaphosa might take the opportunity to announce the much-anticipated election date while highlighting his achievements.

“He will yet again make promises on load shedding, let alone unemployment. Those promises have not been met, but the president will come out to make more promises but in general acknowledge that there have been challenges.

“There is no way that the president will go into detail about his previous failures because he has never done it and no president has ever done it before … What he will do he will acknowledge that there are challenges,” Matebesi said.

He said he would be surprised if Ramaphosa did not highlight the recent achievements of South Africa.

He was referring to South Africa’s victory in the case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“He will highlight that the ones that are making noise (about his failures) would have never experienced or had the opportunity to govern, but I think for me ... if you are afforded the opportunity to lead the country, you need to respect the citizens of the country whether you are a member of the ruling party or not … yes, there have been a lot of achievements, but there have just been too many challenges,” he said.

Touching on the issue of crime, Matebesi said Ramaphosa should stop long stories about fighting crime while South Africans were dying.

“South Africans are dying like flies in their own country that is supposed to be a free country …What is the government doing to fight crime? It’s unacceptable! What is the government doing to deal with this rampant corruption that is happening?” he asked.

“In terms of what promises he made last year, he will highlight all those that went well and unfortunately he won’t go into detail as to why he has not implemented what they have promised.

“As a country we are good at making promises, so I think there will definitely be more promises. But what about the bread-and-butter issues?

“In a diplomatic way, he might just take a swipe at the former president (Jacob Zuma) and former ANC secretary-general (Ace Magashule).”

In a statement, Parliament announced that a new set of rules will apply to this evening’s proceedings, which include that no member will be allowed to interrupt the president while he is delivering the Sona.

The Star